Manuel Estiarte - Hall Of Fame Water Polo Player

Manuel Estiarte (ESP)
BirthplaceManresa, Spain Current City
CountrySpain FlagSpain
Birthplace:Manresa, Spain
Current City:
Birth Date:
  • Competed in six Olympic Games, earning gold in 1996 and silver in 1992.
  • Earned three medals at the World Championships, including gold in 1998.
  • Was the top scorer at the Olympics in 1980, 1984, 1988.
  • Played in over 578 international games for Spain, scoring over 600 goals.
  • Served as a member of the IOC Athletes Commission from 2000-2004.
  • Scored 127 goals in six Olympics, more than any other player in history.
  • Tallied 34 goals during the 1984 Olympics, setting a new record.
  • Led Spain to its first-ever Olympic medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

  • 1980 Olympic Games: Fourth
  • 1984 Olympic Games: Fourth
  • 1988 Olympic Games: Sixth
  • 1992 Olympic Games: Silver
  • 1996 Olympic Games: Gold
  • 2000 Olympic Games: Fourth
  • 1991 World Championships: Silver
  • 1994 World Championships: Silver
  • 1998 World Championships: Gold
  • 1991 FINA World Cup: Bronze
  • 1995 FINA World Cup: Bronze
  • 1997 FINA World Cup: Bronze
  • 1999 FINA World Cup: Bronze
  • 1983 European Championships: Bronze
  • 1991 European Championships: Silver 
  • 1993 European Championships: Bronze
  • 1997 European Championships: Fifth
  • 1999 European Championships: Sixth
  • Named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1984 Olympic Games after scoring 34 goals.
  • Voted the Best Player of the Perth World Championships in 1998.
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At just 5'8" and weighing only 145 pounds, Manuel Estiarte would seem to be an unlikely candidate to be considered the greatest player of all-time in a sport whose players average 6'3” and 200+ pounds. But Estiarte's career proved once again that it's not the size of the man, but the size of his heart and what's in the head that counts the most.

Born in Manresa, Spain, in 1961, Estiarte began playing water polo as soon as he could swim. At the Barcelona Swimming Club (BSC), he was identified as a water polo prodigy. He was 15 years old when he made his international debut, and within three years he was the top scorer at the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

He repeated as the leading scorer at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 with a record 34 goals as the Most Outstanding Player of the Games. He led all players in scoring again at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul with 26 goals.

In 1992, Estiarte became a national hero after leading Spain to its first-ever Olympic medal - silver - in their host city of Barcelona. But finishing the Games as top scorer again was little comfort following a dramatic gold medal final against Ratko Rudic's Italian team. Estiarte converted a penalty 42 seconds from full time to put Spain ahead, but nine seconds later Italy equalized and went on to win in extra time.

Four years later, in Atlanta, Spain and Estiarte were once again in the Olympic final, but this time the result was different. With ten seconds left to play and Spain up 7- 5 against Croatia, Estiarte took possession.

"I've dreamt of this moment all my life," he said afterwards. "The last ten seconds of the Olympic final, I have the ball and Spain wins the gold medal. I waited five Olympics, but it finally happened."

All totaled, in a career that spanned over two decades, he competed in more Olympic Games (six) and scored more than any other player in Olympic history (127). He competed in over 578 international games for Spain, scoring over 600 goals. For many years, he played in the Italian Professional League with Club Pescara and won a water polo grand slam of four European Championships. In 1998, he was voted Best Player of the Perth World Championships.

Following his retirement after the Sydney Games he served as a member of the International Olympic Committee Athletes Commission until 2004.

“I had the privilege to take part in six Olympic Games, and in each one of them I felt emotions too special to be described. From the first, when I was just a young man, to the last, where I won and I had the honour of carrying my homeland's flag."